SAALT’s Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence Sounds the Alarm for Justice


On Sep­tem­ber 12, 2017, one day after the 16th anniver­sary of the trag­ic attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al civ­il rights and racial jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, held a Con­gres­sion­al brief­ing to address the ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­cans under the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion. SAALT was joined by five mem­bers of Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship and nation­al part­ner orga­ni­za­tions to denounce this admin­is­tra­tion’s anti-Mus­lim, anti-immi­grant poli­cies that embold­en hate against our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Post‑9/11 has trans­formed into present-Trump, with hate vio­lence reach­ing lev­els that rival the after­math of the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “The White House has a sworn respon­si­bil­i­ty to con­demn and pre­vent all forms of hate. Today’s brief­ing with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers is an impor­tant step in mak­ing sure this admin­is­tra­tion does not renounce its respon­si­bil­i­ties to our com­mu­ni­ties and nation.”

The cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion has been fun­da­men­tal to the growth and audac­i­ty of white suprema­cist and Islam­o­pho­bic move­ments in the Unit­ed States. The White House has unleashed numer­ous divi­sive poli­cies that have awok­en and embold­ened hate against our com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing sev­er­al per­mu­ta­tions of the “Mus­lim Ban,” rescind­ing Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA), and sup­port­ing the RAISE Act, among oth­ers.

Since the elec­tion, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed over 150 inci­dents of hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab Amer­i­can, already sur­pass­ing totals from the year lead­ing up to the 2016 elec­tion. Accord­ing to the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, anti-Mus­lim hate groups grew by 197% in 2016, and, accord­ing to the FBI, anti-Mus­lim hate crimes increased by 67% in 2015.

“SAALT, along with our nation­al part­ners, will con­tin­ue to demand and strive for a just and inclu­sive soci­ety for all Amer­i­cans,” stat­ed Ms. Raghu­nathan. “We stand ready to work with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers to mount a deci­sive oppo­si­tion to big­otry and divi­sion of all kinds and to rein­force our com­mu­ni­ties’ impor­tant place in the fab­ric of our nation.”


Co-Chairs, Sponsors, Speakers, Partners, and Quotes:

Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing include: 
Sen­a­tor Richard Blu­men­thal (CT);
Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin (MD);
Sen­a­tor Tam­my Duck­worth (IL)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing include: 
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Judy Chu (CA-27);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Max­ine Waters (CA-43);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bar­bara Lee (CA-13);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA‑7);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ro Khan­na (CA-17)

Members of Congress who joined the briefing include:
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Judy Chu (CA-27);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA‑7);
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ro Khan­na (CA-17)

Partner organizations include:
South Asian Net­work;
Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing;
Sikh Coali­tion;
DACA Net­work

Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:
“Thank you to South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er for orga­niz­ing today’s brief­ing and being such a strong leader in the fight to defeat hate. Since the 2016 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion we have wit­nessed height­ened xeno­pho­bic and anti-Mus­lim rhetoric and vio­lence tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties of col­or across the nation. This hate, rhetoric, and the vio­lence is par­tic­u­lar­ly alarm­ing because it is rem­i­nis­cent of what we saw in the after­math of Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks, when Mus­lims, South Asians, Sikhs and oth­ers became the tar­gets of hate. In 2017 we’ve seen racial ten­sions come to a head, which has been large­ly fueled by white suprema­cists. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s dan­ger­ous polit­i­cal rhetoric has explic­it­ly tar­get­ed South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties, such as the Pres­i­den­t’s ill-con­ceived and un-Amer­i­can Mus­lim trav­el ban. But the xeno­pho­bic sen­ti­ment is also being dri­ven by xeno­pho­bic poli­cies such as Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to ter­mi­nate the DACA pro­gram, and its desire to upend our fam­i­ly based immi­gra­tion sys­tem. Our nation’s val­ues affirm that all peo­ple deserve to be wel­comed and to feel safe no mat­ter what they look like or who they wor­ship. Hate has no place in Amer­i­ca, and we have to con­tin­ue to remain vig­i­lant in pro­tect­ing the rights of all Amer­i­cans against this ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7):
“The hate vio­lence we are fac­ing in 2017 is not new. But what we are fac­ing, what it feels like, is a sanc­tioned hate that comes from places like the White House. We ask that the Pres­i­dent cease his incen­di­ary rhetoric that helps to fuel many of these hate crimes. It is crys­tal clear that we still have a tremen­dous amount of work to do, and that work must come from lead­ers in Con­gress and from our com­mu­ni­ties insist­ing that we are not a coun­try that con­tin­ues this anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bic rhetoric. You can tie a direct thread between every­thing that has been hap­pen­ing and the lead­er­ship that comes from the White House. It isn’t enough just to be speak out, there needs to be account­abil­i­ty that actu­al­ly takes direct action to ensure that the Pres­i­dent under­stands that he is the Pres­i­dent of all of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. Let’s see every defeat as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to grow our move­ment, and let’s see every win as a vic­to­ry in our step to push for that more per­fect union.”

Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“It’s time that we, togeth­er as a nation, speak open­ly and respect­ful­ly about how to end any hate and vio­lence direct­ed towards Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties. I will always stand up against racism and vio­lence. To those who have faced prej­u­dice know that you are not alone and we are with you.”

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di —